Ihor
Feoktistov
CTO at Relevant

Mobile IoT Apps and All You Need to Know About Them

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How frequently have you doubted whether or not you had switched off an oven or left a door locked? Now, devices can make it easy for you to check, and even remind you of every action you have to take. For example, you can control devices remotely from your workplace or from anywhere. 

IoT mobile app

This article is about mobile IoT applications. We’ve decided to prepare this FAQ guide explaining what IoT is and why we need mobile applications for it. The answers will give you an insight into how IoT mobile apps work and how we can get the most out of this trend.

What Is IoT?

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a system of cross-connected, wireless devices with access to the Internet. 

These devices can collect, send and act on data they acquire from the surrounding environment or share among each other. It is possible due to embedded sensors, processors and communication hardware. 

The idea of IoT isn’t new. Way back in 1989, John Romkey and Simon Hackett connected a toaster to the Internet. The toaster could only turn the power on and off, thus regulating the darkness of the toast by adjusting cooking time. 

In 1991, the system was improved: a small robot, also controlled via the Internet, was added. It could pick up a slice of bread and drop it into the toaster. 

Today the list of existing and possible IoT gadgets is endless.

Why Is Mobile IoT the Hottest Trend?

IoT has penetrated almost all spheres of life. It has its greatest impact on residential construction, healthcare, logistics, and environmental care. 

In early 2019, the International Data Corporation (IDC) predicted worldwide spending on the Internet of Things was going to reach $745 Billion. By 2020, 5.8 billion IoT endpoints are expected to be in use, as Gartner predicts

IoT technologies keep people informed and save them time, which would otherwise be spent on the routine.

Consider Nest Protect, a smoke detector that signals when something in your house goes wrong and sends alert messages to your phone. The detector has sensors that can gauge how fast a fire is spreading and guard against false alarms. It can also distinguish between smoke and steam. 

Nest Camera displays a picture of your room – in real-time – and notifies you if there are movements or sounds. Through this camera, accessible via a mobile phone, you can talk to your homies and even burglars when they break in.

There are a number of companies producing smart locks that will notify an individual if someone entered the house in his or her absence. Also, wherever we are, IoT software and devices enable the door locking option right from our mobile phones. 

IoT trend is associated with changing lives for the better. The reality of interconnected appliances that all of us can access from anywhere is too attractive to do without. 

How Are IoT Devices and Mobile Apps Related?

A mobile app is a medium between an IoT device and a mobile phone. The app works as the primary interface through which we can manage smart things. 

Mobile IoT apps supplement and enhance the use of IoT to make it work more efficiently.

For example, your phone can alert your coffee machine that you are nearby, so it can start making coffee right before your arrival.

Okay, but IoT devices can be managed from desktops. Why should I have a mobile app?” you may ask.

  1. Mobile phones are more suitable for remote access from wherever you are. 
  2. Smartphones are fully-loaded with a lot of different sensors. They have more connectivity options, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and others.

With the help of mobile IoT apps, phones can deliver geolocation information to your smart home devices. 

For example, Tado controls home heating. The app tracks your position, and, when you are somewhere near home, it starts heating or cooling the house before your arrival.  

These features make smartphones the most convenient devices for management of IoT technologies. 

What is a “Smart Home?”

A “smart home” is an integration of home electronic devices into a united, remotely controllable system, through mobile IoT apps or wall panels. 

Google Home device for smart home

The advantage of the smart home is that it can combine a lot more features than a single separate unit. Respectively, the application will have much greater capabilities than a single thing: management of climate control systems, lighting, multimedia, security and surveillance, shutters, door locks, etc.

We have already described such devices (Nest Cam and a smoke detector). Let’s look at some others. 

The Nest System is a Wi-Fi enabled platform that can be remotely controlled with the help of a mobile IoT app. It includes cameras, a thermostat, and a smoke alarm. There are a lot of products that can be connected with Nest devices, including smart ovens, beds, wearables for keeping fit and so on.

Apple HomeKit is a system of household devices and appliances managed directly from iPhone or iPad. For example, you can switch on/off the light in any room you want, lock doors, change temperature, etc. Using Siri, users can group functions together and trigger described actions. 

Smarthome mobile app design and development
source: apple.com

What’s Special about a “Smart City?”

Smart cities can help reduce waste and improve the efficiency of utilized resources. The system can deliver clean water, solar power, save gas and electricity. 

Here are some vivid examples of Smart City technologies.

Amsterdam has been one of the most progressive cities in implementing smart and intelligent systems.  

There, a sensor-based system called Twilight, is used. The system helps reduce energy consumption through remote programming of city lights; i.e. the light is turned on only when a person, a car or a bicycle appear. 

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Twilight sensors also monitor traffic density, gather data and present it in the form of heat maps. An individual who has access to this data through a mobile application can change routes in case of a traffic jam.

Masdar City, a zero-waste, zero-carbon city in the desert of the UAE.

Masdar is developing a sustainable eco-city. Movement sensors will replace light switches and water taps, and help reduce electricity and water consumption.

The construction of Masdar began in 2008 and is scheduled for completion in 2025. It is expected that electricity supplied by a concentrated solar power plant will power a transportation system of the city that is 100% electric. Each household will be connected to a network, which monitors energy consumption. 

How to Use Mobile IoT in Logistics and Transportation?

Today, a lot of IoT applications and devices for logistics exist. These apps are highly popular, as they allow tracking of every move of different vehicles, building smart routes, and reducing costs.

Usually, a tracker acts as an IoT device in logistics for vans, cars and trucks. Look how it works.

The Gurtam company, for example, offers GPS-tracking, online monitoring, fuel consumption control and tachograph control in the area of logistics and delivery. 

Using an app, firms can monitor where trucks are located, the distance the truck has covered and the current volume of fuel in the tank.

DHL actively uses new IoT technologies, according to the information from the DHL Trend Report

With the help of IoT technologies, namely, digital twins, DHL uses digital models to better understand and manage physical assets. Such an approach has the potential to significantly change logistics operations.

Also, such market giants as Google, Apple, Tesla, Uber, and Lyft are all investing significant amounts of money into building cars that will eventually be driverless. 

How is Mobile IoT Affecting Healthcare?

IoT changes healthcare today. It offers the opportunity to react to any changes in a patient’s health status faster and make predictions of the course of the disease. 

Additionally, IoT enables monitoring of medical equipment which results in their prompt repair or replacement.

There are a lot of mobile IoT applications and devices available for personal use. 

For example, a blood glucose meter iHealth Smart Glucometer can control blood sugar levels and send measurement results to the smartphone. The application can monitor changes in blood sugar throughout the day, week, month, set reminders for glucose measurements or medication, send measurement statistics by e-mail or share the results on social media.

Healthcare IoT mobile app example
source: play.google.com

AdhereTech wireless pill bottles measure patient’s adherence to medication. 

These bottles collect (with the help of numerous sensors) and send information about the frequency of taking pills and its schedule in real-time. If doses are missed, patients can receive alerts on the phone using automated phone calls and text messages.

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What Are the Prospects of Mobile App Development for IoT?

The amount of connected devices is growing every day, and so, too, does the number of IoT mobile app developers for hire and software providers. 

A recent survey, conducted by IoT Analytics, states that in 2019, there were 620 publicly known IoT platforms, compared to 450 in 2017.

The Eclipse Foundation made a report based on a survey of 1,700 application developers regarding their experience with the Internet of Things. 

According to those surveyed, “65% of respondents are currently working on IoT projects professionally or will be in the next 18 months.”

Also, the most interesting areas currently served by IoT devices include IoT Platforms, Home Automation, and Industrial Automation / IIoT. The success and the availability of devices like the Nest spread consumer adoption of IoT devices.

Start building your mobile IoT app 

Mobile applications act as mediators between IoT devices and humans. 

The main reason why mobile apps are at the frontier of IoT is that our smartphones are always at hand. Also, smartphones have many sensors that provide a great opportunity to manage “smart devices.” 

For individuals, mobile IoT apps give them control over their home. People can manage their daily routines and enjoy both their work and home environments. 

In the realm of governance, mobile applications that regulate IoT devices ensure control over an entire city. They help reduce energy and water consumption and lead to optimization of city infrastructures. 

Healthcare, logistics, and transportation companies gain profits and manage business processes with the help of IoT and mobile devices.

The market for IoT mobile apps has great prospects. It is predicted that investments in IoT, as well as the number of connected devices and mobile applications, will continue to grow significantly. 

Contact us today to get an estimation for your mobile IoT application development.

Written by
Ihor Feoktistov
CTO at Relevant
I make sure our clients get the highest code quality and the best tech talent on the market. I am also a Software Engineering Advisor for startups. Let's connect.

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